The Sixth Sense wonderkid Haley Joel Osment has earned a rep as one of the most gifted child stars in Hollywood history. However, for his role as a robot boy in Steven Spielberg's haunting futuristic fairy tale A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (opening Friday), the Oscar nominee was presented with the acting challenge of a lifetime.
"It was hard not to blink, because robots always keep their eyes open," Osment tells TV Guide Online. "The trick is not to think about it a lot. After the first week, I didn't blink even after they yelled, 'Cut,' at the end of a scene."
A.I. is a collaboration between Spielberg and late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, whose untimely death did not prevent him from showing up on the set. "There was always a little bit of Stanley around," Osment remembers. "Sometimes, when he set up a shot, Steven would say, 'Oh, Stanley would have done it this way.'"
Still, A.I. is very much a Spielberg production. In fact, while much is being made of the film's violent content (warning: blindfold the kiddies during the Flesh Fair), the PG-13-rated pic also has its share of E.T. moments namely, any frame featuring Osment's animatronic toy bear-slash-protector, Teddy. "It almost felt like Teddy was real," he says of his lovable co-star. "Steven even had acting notes for him. Sometimes, he'd miss his place in a scene and Steven would be yelling, 'Teddy, get on your mark!'"And although Osment's livelihood may find him interacting with talking dolls and taking orders from the likes of Steven Spielberg, off the set, life is anything but a fantasy. "Everything when I'm not working is very normal just like a normal kid," insists the 13-year-old. "At home, everything is as if I didn't act at all. And at school and with friends... even though they think the acting stuff is cool, it doesn't really get in the way."